About us

This conference is organized by EpiTRAITS and CHIP-ET, two Marie Curie Innovative Training Networks (ITNs) funded by the EU/FP7 that address questions related to chromatin-mediated regulation of gene expression in plants. ITNs aim to improve career perspectives of early-stage researchers in both public and private sectors. This is achieved through a trans-national networking mechanism and improving the employability of the recruited researchers through exposure to both academia and enterprise, thus extending the traditional academic research training setting and eliminating cultural and other barriers to mobility.


The mission of EpiTRAITS (www.epitraits.eu) is to train young researchers in epigenetic gene regulation and flowering in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and the crop plants maize (Zea mays) and barley (Hordeum vulgare). Epigenetic gene regulation confers stability of gene expression patterns through cell divisions while allowing changes in expression in response to environmental or developmental cues. Although changes in epigenetic gene regulation are a major cause for trait variation, no rational strategies have been developed that utilize this knowledge for crop breeding purposes. EpiTRAITS focuses on one of the key plant traits, flowering, which is controlled by various epigenetic mechanisms. The scientific program aims to bridge the gap between fundamental and applied research by translating results from epigenetic research in model organisms to improved technologies for crop breeding and molecular diagnostic tools.

Scientific partners of EpiTRAITS are Maike Stam (scientific coordinator, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Paul Fransz (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Franciska Turck (Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Germany), Manuel Piñeiro (Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agrarias, Spain), Dominique Poncelet & Renaud Schoemans (Diagenode, Belgium), Paul Bundock & Michiel de Both (Keygene, The Netherlands), Peter Welters & Guido Jach (Phytowelt, Germany), Daniel Schubert (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany), Gerco Angenent (Wageningen University, The Netherlands), Pawel Krajewski (IPG-PAS, Poland) Valérie Gaudin (Institut Jean-Pierre Bourgin, INRA Centre de Versailles-Grignon, France), Philippe Andrey (Institut Jean-Pierre Bourgin, INRA Centre de Versailles-Grignon, France), Charlie Hodgman (University of Nottingham, United Kingdom), Helen Bergman (project manager, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands).

Associated Partners: Rob Dirks (Rijk Zwaan, The Netherlands), Józef Adamczyk & Janusz Rogacki (Smolice, Poland), Alison Mitchell & Jane Sugars (Vitae, United Kingdom), Kelly Dawe & Jonathan Gent (University of Georgia, USA), Christophe Godin (INRIA , France).

External Advisory Board: Ortrun Mittelsten Scheid (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria), Martin Howard (John Innes Centre, UK), Hans-Peter Piepho (University of Hohenheim, Germany), Jan Lohmann (Heidelberg University, Germany).


CHIP-ET (www.chip-et.eu) focuses on the study of protein complexes that modulate chromatin structure to activate RNA polymerase II–mediated transcription. Research addresses how developmental and environmental stimuli such as light and circadian rhythm signal to these complexes to modulate transcription. The interactome of the complexes is determined, as well as their genome-wide target genes and the common and specific components in their molecular networks. The impact of perturbation of complex components or regulators on plant development and stress tolerance is analyzed in the Arabidopsis model and then further tested in maize and canola (oilseed rape) in order to improve field performance and yield. Therefore, the trainees of CHIP-ET are aware of the relevance of exploiting research results and the importance of molecular breeding for a sustainable agriculture.

Scientific partners of CHIP-ET are Mieke Van Lijsebettens (scientific coordinator, PSB – University of Gent, Belgium), Klaus Grasser (University of Regensburg, Germany), Andreas Houben (IPK Gatersleben, Germany), Wen-Hui Shen (IBMP-CNRS Strasbourg, France), Paloma Mas (CRAG Barcelona, Spain) and Marc De Block (Bayer Crop Science, Gent, Belgium)


Marie Curie ITN

Marie Curie Innovative Training Networks bring together universities, research centers and companies from different countries worldwide to train a new generation of researchers. The funding boosts scientific excellence and business innovation, and enhances researchers’ career prospects through developing their skills in entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation.